Angry Young Men: Creative Approaches to Hamlet, Catcher in the Rye, and the First-Person Narrative (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Course Description

In Spring 2013, the IWP Distance Learning Program will open an introductory creative writing course for high school students in partnership with SAAS (Slavic Anglo American School) Marina in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Led by a Distance Learning instructor, students will study texts and produce writing in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction during a five-week course. For Fall 2013, SAAS Marina and the IWP have created a second creative writing and critical analysis course. This ten-week course, conducted over Skype, with supporting materials on Lore, will provide students at SAAS Marina with an opportunity for further creative explorations of English and American literature.

Be it in the form of a play, novel, short story, or poem, literature presents threads to untangle and mysteries to solve. As an art form, it has the power to simultaneously illuminate and change reality. In this course, students will examine the many tools writers use to communicate meaning. Students will also explore the various ways they might employ such tools in their own writing, with particular focus on voice development and clarity of expression.

Through both class discussion and creative writing exercises, students will gain a greater understanding of the themes and conflicts at-play in William Shakepeare's Hamlet, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, and stories by Junot Diaz and George Saunders, among others. The instructor, Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Deborah Kennedy, will provide weekly in-class creative writing prompts inspired by the reading material. Students will then be expected to complete such assignments prior to the next class meeting. They will also be asked to engage with the reading material outside of class and to come prepared to discuss assigned questions prepared by the instructor. The course will offer students the opportunity to engage both critically and creatively with the texts in order to become knowledgeable readers and proficient writers.


Deborah KENNEDY recently earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and also holds an MA in fiction writing and English Literature from Miami University. Her work has appeared in Third Coast MagazineSou'westerThe North American Review, and Salon. For the last 14 years, she has taught literature, composition, and creative writing. She has also volunteered as a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters since 2006. She served as the editor of Oxford Magazine at Miami University and the editor of Kennings at Hanover College. Deborah currently lives in Portland, Oregon. 

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